EMAIL US AT info[at]metadrasi.org
CALL US NOW (+30) 214 100 8700
Metadrasi - METAdrasi Riders 3

“Road to Integration”

Journalist: Apostolos Staikos
Operator/Editor: Simon Chabas

Learning to drive towards… integration

I love trucks since I was little. I dreamed of growing up, getting my license so that I could drive big vehicles. I want to travel around the world. Thanks to METAdrasi my dream has become a reality” says Mohamad Barbary.

The 21-year-old refugee from Afghanistan applied to “Road to integration” programme, implemented by METAdrasi with the support of a donor. This initiative, which for the first time gave 20 refugees and migrants the opportunity to obtain truck or car license, has opened doors to new possibilities.

“Recently, I’ve been actively searching for work, and many companies request candidates with a driver’s license. Now, having obtained the license, I can apply for a job. I had been thinking about taking driving lessons for quite some time now, but I had no money. I have two children and this will definitely help us in our daily lives,” says Abdurrahman Dikmen, whose application was selected among the hundreds that were sent to METAdrasi.

Following the successful completion of the first cycle, METAdrasi continues to receive inquiries from refugees and migrants eager to join the programme and learn how to drive. A lot of companies also come knocking at METAdrasi’s door, seeking truck drivers due to the prevailing shortage of professionals in the market.

The students that took part in the programme told me how they couldn’t afford the lessons. And the cost for obtaining a truck driving license is even higher. METAdrasi’s programme is indeed a great opportunity. To put it even simpler, nowadays most businesses are looking for professional drivers. I’m certain that my students will secure employment easily. Besides, they are very good drivers,” says driving instructor Elias Michalakopoulos.

Metadrasi - METAdrasi Riders 2

Apart from being another qualification that could help them get a job, a driving license boosts the self-confidence of refugees and migrants significantly, and helps them integrate into Greek society.

Evi Papaioannou, Project Manager at the Integration Department of METAdrasi, remarks, “Following the great response and the profound interest of men and women we had, we believe that programmes like this one should continue. This license is not just about practical aspects related to employment; it enhances their self-confidence. People are now in a position to drive and get around in the country where they live. Driving becomes a crucial step towards full integration.

METAdrasi has collaborated with driving instructors Elias Michalakopoulos and Pavlos Renezis for this programme. The participants of the first cycle were from various countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Egypt. Initially anxious, the students quickly adapted to the urban environment with the guidance of their instructors, often requiring no more than five or six lessons to confidently navigate the streets of Athens.

For all of us, a driving license is important. But I think for these people it is even more imperative. It is a step towards integration into our society. It is like becoming ‘one’ with all other drivers, since on the road we are all equal and the very same rules apply to us all,” says Pavlos Renezis.  

Metadrasi - METAdrasi Riders 1

Taken from my own experience in the business, I can say that I noted how refugees and migrants are more eager and they try to be perfect. They want to learn, they keep asking questions and they don’t want to make any mistakes. They feel that this is a unique opportunity they should seize, in order to change their life; to find a decent job and move on,” believes Elias Michalakopoulos.

This also expresses how Mohamad feels, who got his driver’s license on his very first try. He arrived in Greece in 2017 and worked in various jobs, such as delivering food. His instructor thinks he has a bright future ahead because apart from being a good driver, he has all the qualities necessary to become a good professional truck driver; he is trustworthy, consistent, and hardworking.

Mohamad reflects on his “journey” with METAdrasi, which goes back many years: “When I was in Moria, I went to METAdrasi’s school in Lesbos. It was there that I took Greek language lessons. Even after moving to Athens, I continued to follow the organization’s activities on social media. When I saw the post about this new project, I contacted the person in charge, did my paperwork and today I am a professional driver! I feel that the road ahead is open for me,” says Mohamad.

Sharing is caring